THE total absence of cricket is having a significant and detrimental impact on South Wilts’ finances, with the Bemerton club already £14,000 down on income from 12 months ago in mid-June 2019 and projecting a loss in excess of £10,000 on the season.

Seven rounds of Southern Premier League and Hampshire League cricket have been lost already – with more blank weekends to follow before the England & Wales Cricket Board gives the go-ahead for play to resume, if indeed the green light comes. Given the fine weather, the club’s four Saturday sides alone should, by now, have played 28 times.

“On top of that, we had warm-up matches planned for April, Wiltshire coming here for several games and we have not been able to play any junior boys and girls cricket,” South Wilts chairman Rob Wade pointed out.

“That represents a significant loss of income through matches fees and the absence of money not going over the bar, which has been closed since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown which began in late March.

“Generally, income for this period against last year is about £14,000 down, through the loss of member’s subscriptions, vice-president’s donations and lunches, sponsorship and external hire of the clubhouse and ground. Outgoings are also down as we haven’t had to pay for cricket balls, umpire’s fees, etc, but we still have substantial overheads, such as insurance, groundsmen’s wages, equipment maintenance, besides paying rent.”

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Mr Wade, who skippered South Wilts for seven seasons, confirmed that the cricket club had received a cushion in the form of a grant from Sport England.

“But that will quickly be swallowed up,” he pointed out.

“If there is no cricket this summer, then we will need to do a serious amount of fundraising over the winter to keep our heads above water and probably look to bring sponsorship monies in earlier next year if possible.

“We are extremely lucky to have such a strong vice president’s section that continues to support us and they’ve already been digging deep.”

Mr Wade realises that the absence of cricket this summer will have a detrimental effect on the club’s thriving junior sections.

“South Wilts’ colts set-up is the envy of many clubs in the south. We run four boys teams from nine years of age upwards, with many of the teenagers progressing into the third and fourth teams, besides coaching academies and holiday schemes.

“Our girl’s section is really flourishing and they have excelled on the field but, like the boys, the absence of cricket has hit them hard and we live in fear that they could be lured away to other sports.”